Saturday, August 31, 2013

Eugene "Tink" Bradley Park

Eugene "Tink" Bradley Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks.  Its 3.18 acres were designated as park space in 1958.

The park is located southeast of Marcus and Margaretta Avenues in the Penrose Neighborhood.

So who was Tink Bradley other than a dude with a great nickname?  Here's some info:

Source:  "Discovering African American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites

 By John Aaron Wright

In fairness, I think it is important to recognize that Penrose is a part of the city that is in pretty bad shape.  People are vacating like mad.  There is zero diversity in this part of the city.  Those with means started leaving more than 50 years ago.  The neighborhood has been all black since 1970.  The population in Penrose has gone from 7,367 in 2000 to 6,387 in 2010.  Another 13% packed it up for greener pastures between 1990 and 2000.  People are making a break from the conditions here and that is a massive loss for the city.  Sadly, people don't like living here and they are voting with their feet and $.

While it's cool that Tink Bradley was the first acting black BOA president.  It should be noted that during his tenure as an alderman, we lost a staggering amount of people in this city and particularly this part of the city.  He was likely part of this problem and the general trend of St. Louis abandonment that took place in his time.  The amazing losses during his tenure as alderman should be noted in the historical context. While he ruled the roost in these parts from 1965 - 1980 we lost 297,225 people.  The worst part of the city's history was right in this time frame.  People couldn't get out fast enough.  Tink Bradley was at the helm during this time.  His area went from middle class to something that is decidedly not even close today.  This is not a character assassination at all, I just think it is important to think of our "recognized leaders" records in their time.  Tink Bradley was on the one of those driving the bus when it steered west for the staid confines of the county.

Historical populations
Est. 2012318,172−0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[22]
2012 Estimate[23]

That's not to say the park isn't nice.  It is almost the perfect size for the surrounding neighborhood.  The topography blends down toward the playgrounds and forms a nice space.

There are some really weird concrete and stone structures left over from who knows what.  If anyone has some info on this, please let me know.  Upon my visit, there were no neighbors available to talk about the park.

There is a really nice fence that was recently installed.  The locals have taken to tearing off the tops of the fence in many places.

There is other evidence of abuse including missing benches, trash everywhere and either burnt or removed rubber surfacing under the playground.  It could also mean, they are re-surfacing the playground, but there was no evidence of work taking place:

There is a nice basketball court that has some of the most unique polls I've seen thus far.

The houses that surround the park range from completely trashed, to boarded up to quite nice little gingerbreads to new suburban homes built on cul-de-sacs.

This park also has a baseball diamond which appears not to be used.

Mount Pevely

Mount Pevely now has plants growing out of it.  Nature is going to take over the mound of debris that St. Louis University and, the City of St. Louis and specifically, Alderman Joseph Roddy has left for the property owners, employees, students, residents, patients, tourists and tax payers to enjoy for over a year.

Remember if the city ever cites you for peeling paint on your porch to remind them that the non tax-paying institutions aren't following the rules either.

This is a giant middle finger raised up high in the air over Tiffany, Midtown and the Gate District.  Shameful.

This property has been in this condition since April, 2012.  I'm sick of it and feel kind of powerless that this stuff continues to happen.

Thanks a lot SLU.  Thanks a lot City of St. Louis.  Not only did you guys approve a demolition of a building on the national historic registry, you half tore them down, made huge mounds so everyone can see and then left it to sit for nearly a year and a half.

When is enough enough?  Is anyone else disgusted by the arrogance of non-profit institutes and the lame City "leaders" that rubber stamp this kind of thing?

Weak indeed.

I try to stick to the golden rule and "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all".  But sometimes you just have to scratch your head, wonder how this can be allowed to happen and speak out that this just can't continue.  Mount Pevely devalues the entire area.  It's a black eye on the Near South Side.

Remember when Fr. Biondi threatened the city with moving the medical campus to West County?  Here's his quote from February, 2012 addressing the St. Louis Planning Commission:
“What I foresee, if you don’t approve our request, is that we would have to shut down our medical school and find property in west county,” noting that 35 years ago, Maryville offered up land for the university to move west. SOURCE
I wonder if West County would have allowed this stop/start/stop tactic?  P

Read more history related to this topic here:

Preservation Research Story:

Pevely Dairy Plant Demolition Underway; Captain D’s Preserved


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dwight Davis Park

Dwight Davis Park is 1 of St. Louis' 108 parks.  It was placed into ordinance in 1951 and makes up 9.6 acres of the total 2,956 acres of park space in St. Louis.

The park is located near the intersection of Lillian Avenue and Riverview Boulevard in the Walnut Park East Neighborhood.

The park is named after Dwight F. Davis. 
"He is remembered best as one of the most progressive civic leaders this community has ever known. World famous as a champion tennis player he was, of course, the donor of the famous Davis Cup. 
In 1911, he was appointed St. Louis Park Commissioner, and in that post made local history. Intensely interested in recreational facilities, he had the conviction, that public parks were intended for public use, not merely for appearance sake. He laid out baseball diamonds, tennis courts, golf courses and stirred up enthusiasm for outdoor sports. Mr. Davis was the man who took the "Keep Off The Grass" signs away from Park lawns and invited the public to make free use of every facility offered by his Department. Public Parks, he argued, belonged to the public. As a result, the organized use of municipal Parks for recreation centers spread throughout the country."  (source)
The tennis center in Forest Park is also named in honor of Mr. Davis.

Tennis is a focal point of this park today, although I doubt there is much tennis played here.  In fact, one of the courts was converted to a basketball court (way more popular sport in this part of St. Louis).  

The courts are in excellent condition and there were brand new nets and posts which were already destroyed by the locals. 

Too bad, because tennis is popular in other parts of St. Louis.  They should get these resources.  Think Compton Reservoir Park where the park is in a densely populated area were tennis courts are rare.  Theirs are trashed and old.  This would go over big in that part of town; not so much here per my evidence.

There are 3 baseball diamonds in pretty good shape, and based on the chalk striping, it appears they are in use.  

The park is directly east of Northwest Academy of Law, a magnet school focusing on the law and law enforcement trades.  

They have a nice football field just west of the park.

The city website boasts spray pools, but I think those were recently removed and paved over:

The playgrounds have trash all over them, but are in excellent condition:

The park also has a mid-20th Century facility with bathrooms and storage (close to public).  Porta-Pottys now serve the park.

A park usually reflects the spirit of the neighborhood in which it resides.  There is trash and public drinking evidence everywhere.  Sadly, the trash cans were dumped over and destroyed and the new ones were largely empty and the current park goers choose to throw the junk food, booze, beer and snack juice (Vess) containers on the ground. 

There has been money invested here in the form of new trees planted.  Sadly they were planted and walked away from and 95% are now dead.

Dwight Davis is being abused and it's pretty sad.  We sure could use those tennis courts in other neighborhoods where they'd be used.

Dickman Park

Dickman Park is 1 of 108 parks in St. Louis.  Located in the Baden Neighborhood, the park came into existence in 1938 and makes up 5.21 acres of the total 2,956 acres of dedicated park space in St. Louis.

I couldn't find any information on the person the park was named after.  Please leave a comment if you know and I'll update the post.

The park is near the intersection of Newby Street, Switzer Avenue and Baden Avenue.  Here's a bird's eye view of the park space which as you can see is really just a swath of nothing...a weed field.

Dickman Park is just north of Calvary Cemetery and the housing that surrounds the park ranges from new construction to small neatly kept sided homes from the mid-20th Century (think Dogtown).

The south side of the "park" is bordered by train tracks and warehouses/light industrial.

There is an old hand-laid retaining wall that is still in place on the north side of the park.

Other than that, nothing to see folks...move right along.

There is no signage or otherwise that would identify this as a St. Louis park...nothing.  There is nothing here, just a few random trees and mowed weeds.

Notice the steeple rising above the field/park in the above photo?  That is the historic Holy Cross Catholic church that has been there since 1909.  The church is still open and could be a perfect partner in what could be for this "park".

Check out the post and amazing photos from the excellent resource Built St. Louis (my inspiration for STL blogging):
Our Lady of the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church dominates the landscape of Baden. Sitting atop a hill on a 2-acre wooded site west of North Broadway, the church's steeple is visible for miles.Built in 1909, the red-brick Gothic-styled church is the centerpiece of the parish complex of buildings. It was built by German architects for a German congregation, but today serves a more diverse population.
photo credit:  Built St. Louis

I imagine a controlled burn and re-seeding with native prairie grasses.  Walking paths through the prairie plants could provide this part of St. Louis with some much needed connections with nature and Missouri and the Midwest.  I hope to revisit this space with a landscaper, prairie expert to revisit this place and see if this is a good candidate for prairie reclamation.